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Deputy Sheriff William Robert Hunter | Butte County Sheriff's Office, California Butte County Sheriff's Office, California

Deputy Sheriff

William Robert Hunter

Butte County Sheriff's Office, California

End of Watch: Thursday, July 26, 2001

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 26

Tour: 3 years

Badge # 81

Cause: Gunfire

Incident Date: 7/26/2001

Weapon: Gun; Unknown type

Suspect: Also killed

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Deputy William Hunter and Lieutenant Estes were shot and killed after responding to a call involving one neighbor threatening another.

As Deputy Hunter responded to the scene, the original reporting party called back and stated that the suspect had stolen a firearm. Deputy Hunter then requested backup and Lieutenant Estes, who was in the area, volunteered and responded to the scene, arriving 19 minutes after Deputy Hunter.

Deputy Hunter entered the cabin where he was ambushed by the suspect as he walked around the corner just inside the front door. The suspect shot him in the head, fatally wounding him. When Lieutenant Estes entered the cabin, he exchanged shots with the suspect at a range of three feet. Lieutenant Estes' weapon was found with one round remaining and had been jammed when it was struck by one of the suspect's rounds. The exchange of gunfire between Lieutenant Estes and the suspect left both men fatally wounded.

When dispatch was unable to reach either officer, additional units were sent by the California Highway Patrol. When they arrived, they located both cruisers parked in front of the small cabin. The sheriff's department's SWAT team was then called out. After firing tear gas, entry was made into the home where the bodies of Deputy Hunter, Lieutenant Estes, and the suspect were located. The suspect was described as a survivalist who was often seen carrying weapons.

Deputy Hunter had been employed with the Butte County Sheriff's Department for three years.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Lieutenant Leonard Bruce Estes
Butte County Sheriff's Office, California
End of Watch: Thursday, July 26, 2001
Cause: Gunfire

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Most Recent Reflection


I ran into your mom last Christmas. It had been a long time since I'd seen her. She still looks the same as ever. The same as she did when I'd come over to your house for chocolate Cool-Whip and really sweet tea.

I'm hoping to get married soon. I still think about how I used to think I'd marry you, when I was really little and you were this giant gangly teenager.

I live in Chico now. I think about you every time I pass the dome church. Your funeral was the biggest outpouring of support and emotion I've ever seen. I sat next to your cousin Dallas. I don't know what ever happened to him.

I think about you every time I hear bagpipes. Every time I hear TAPS or Amazing Grace. Every airshow I've ever been to since then reminds me of the jets flying overhead as they gave you the twenty-one gunshot salute.

A few years ago I went to Washington DC and found your name on the Officers' Memorial. I don't know where you're buried, but I've looked for you. I'll keep looking.

Nobody was ever the same after what happened to you: not me, my family, or your family. A couple of months later the whole nation would learn to divide their lives into "before" and "after," but the ones who loved you already had. 2001 was just such a terrible year. And every hero's funeral after 9/11 just made us think of you. All those bagpipes, all those gunshot salutes. You wouldn't recognize your country anymore, but I like to think you'd still recognize me. I'm only about a foot and a half taller than last time we met.

You're still so missed. I think we all lost a little bit of our faith in the world when we lost you. We lost our sense of safety and our sense of trust. We learned that sometimes bad things really do happen to great people. But you taught us what sacrifice and bravery really meant, which were things we needed to know over the coming years. You left so much of yourself behind with us, and for that I'm grateful.

I still have that dollhouse you built me in highschool. When I have a daughter, I'm going to finish it. I'll put gingerbread trim on it and make a little garden in the back, just like your mom's. And I'll tell my kids all about my godparents and their sons, and flower fairies, and especially about their Uncle Billy and how proud he made us all.

Somebody who remembers you.
September 3, 2014


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